New Delhi, July 8: Malaysia last week made it clear that it had no intentions of deporting controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik to India, where he is wanted for several crimes. Close on the heels of this announcement came a statement from the PAS in Malaysia hailing the government's decision to protect Naik.
PAS, deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said, "PAS would like to congratulate the move by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to allow Zakir Naik to remain in Malaysia as a permanent resident, from being sent back to India to face accusations created by the Indian government.
Defending Zakir was the right move, in line with the Islamic policy of protecting its people from becoming victims of oppression and tyranny.
Officials in India tell OneIndia that these developments are upsetting, but all hope is not lost. The investigations and trials in the cases against Naik continue and we will continue to press for his extradition, the official said while pointing to the extradition treaty with Malaysia.
The decision to defend Naik falls well within the lines of the Islamic police that Malaysia follows. The statement from PAS makes it clear that Malaysia was only protecting an Islamic preacher from becoming a victim of oppression and tyranny.
When Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad came to power, India's hopes had been raised as he spoke about curbing Islamic terror with an iron fist. India believed that he would instantly deport Naik and with an extradition treaty on hand, it would have been a mere formality.
However it appears now that the radical Islamic bug has hit Mahathir as well. Observers suggest that he may be under immense pressure from both the radical Islamic lobby in his country who had helped Naik enter Malaysia and even get a Permanent Residency status. The Saudi interference in this matter is also not ruled out as the country backs Naik's Wahhabi styled Islam.
Mahathir while denying the extradition said that he would continue to remain in Malaysia as long as he does not pose a threat. However the problem with Naik is that through his speeches he can influence millions of Muslims across the world to take up arms as was seen in the terror incident at Bangladesh where one of the terrorists said he was inspired by Naik.
An officer with the National Investigation Agency tells OneIndia that during the various probes they have conducted, the Zakir Naik stamp on radicals is immense. Be it the Islamic State case or the recent one relating to the PFI, they thrive on his literature to further their agenda.
In November 2016, the NIA had found that an ISIS recruit, Abu Anas had received an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh towards scholarship. During the first round of the investigation, the NIA had found that an amount of Rs 80,000 had been given by the Dr Zakir Naik run, Islamic Research Foundation to Anas.
However, while probing deeper another transaction of Rs 70,000 to Anas had been found.
Investigators say that the total amount given to Anas in two transactions amounted to Rs 1,50,000.
The case of Anas is interesting. Radicalised and determined he decided to give up his job as an engineer to take the ISIS path. The NIA says that it may not be a mere coincidence. The two incidents could well be related. It is a well known fact that several terrorists have confessed they were inspired by Zakir Naik's speeches. By taking a scholarship a person become indebted to an organisation. This could have been a turning point for Anas.
A case as recent as June 2018 suggested that a Hindu Munani spokesperson Sasi Kumar was killed by members of the PFI who were high on Naik literature. During investigation, NIA conducted searches at the houses of 4 accused persons and recovered PFI donation receipts, PFI literature, PFI Unity March CDs, mobile phones, Compact Disks and pen drives, DVD of Zakir Naik of Islamic Research Foundation and other incriminating documents relating to PFI.
In its response to the Interpol, India had made it clear that Naik was not being targeted because of his religion, but for terror. Further India also said that Naik's NGO Islamic Research Foundation had been banned by the Government and the same was upheld by the tribunal. He had funded a few terror suspects through his NGO and hence he needs to be questioned in that connection, the NIA also told the Interpol.
Officials say that Malaysia needs to tread carefully on this issue. Naik will continue to speak in his own subtle way while inciting several radical Muslims across the world. With a proximity to Indonesia and Southern Thailand, which are hotbeds of Islamic terrorism, the presence of Naik in Malaysia could only make matters worse. Indian officials say that Naik's presence could increase attempts at indoctrination and this could make matters worse in Malaysia.